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  • Writer's pictureMonica Montanari

To Dye For! Reverse Tie Dye for the Whole Family

Updated: Sep 14, 2020

By now you've probably run out of ideas for staying busy during quarantine. Or you've run out of ways to entertain your kids. Or you've decided to spice up your wardrobe. Whatever the reason is, I've got the DIY for you! It's cheap, easy, and fun for any age!

The 90s are back, y'all- and while we're all familiar with the tie dye trend that was all the rage in the late 90s, early 2000s, this time around it's got a new manifestation: the reverse tie dye (a.k.a. a new way to say "bleach"). It's even easier than tie dye and can be used to make any boring old piece of clothing one of your favorite pieces again. So I'm going to teach you how to do it.

CAUTION: Bleach is a harsh chemical. Do not do this craft if you have asthma or respiratory problems. It can irritate the skin and eyes, and even cause burns internally/externally. Mixing bleach with other chemicals or compounds can create a toxic gas. Read more about the main chemical in bleach (chlorine) at the CDC website. I am not responsible for anything that happens to you if you do this craft. That being said, if your children are careful, responsible, and using safety precautions, this craft can be fun for the whole family.

What You'll Need:

  • Bleach (a regular, liquid, household bleach will work fine- I recommend ultra concentrated and splash-less formulas so you get the most effect for the littlest amount of $$)

  • Water

  • An empty water bottle

  • Article(s) of clothing

  • Gloves

  • Eye protection (optional)

  • Rubber bands (optional)

What To Do:


Any time you work with bleach, gloves are a good idea. Rubber gloves are ideal because they're virtually impenetrable, but regular latex gloves will work if you're not going to be touching the bleach with your hands. Wear clothes that won't be absolutely destroyed if they get a drop of bleach on them. You should be able to do this without having any accidents, but just in case, better to be safe than sorry. Eye protection is a good idea for really little ones, and adult supervision is a must. Prepare an area where bleach won't destroy- like on concrete or asphalt (outside is best, since the vapor can be overwhelming in a small space).

Mix (adults only)

Using your empty water bottle, mix 1 part water to 1 part bleach (for example, if you use 1 cup of bleach, use 1 cup of water). When it's mixed, take the cap off the water bottle and poke a hole in it. For this, we just used a knife to make 2-3 different holes in the top.

Note: whenever bleach is involved, don't shake things. If a cap is loose or something has holes, it'll be too late before you find out. Instead, use swirling motions to mix things, or rotate the container you're mixing in upside down and right-side up slowly.


To get the look I did, I took a Gildan sweatshirt from Amazon, pinched the middle of the torso area, and

wound the rest of the sweatshirt around it. I used a rubber band to keep it in that shape (by placing the rubber band around the edges- not through the middle). I then set the sleeves of the sweatshirt away from the wound up torso. There are so many amazing ways to do reverse tie-dye patterns. YouTube offers like... 8000.


Using your water bottle, fill in the spots you want to dye. The way that I did this was to saturate a swirl on top of my little wound-up sweatshirt, and then lightly sprinkle the sleeves.

There's another option to do this project that requires a bit more protection and prep. If you fill a spray bottle with the mixture and then cut out a shape from a plastic bag and lay it over the piece of clothing, you can create a really cool piece also. You can always combine this with other dye techniques or use it anywhere that dye hasn't touched yet.


It will take between 10-30 minutes for the bleach to dye your article of clothing. Don't leave it unattended. Animals/children get tempted. Make sure you keep an eye on it, otherwise the chemicals in the bleach will burn a hole right through the fabric.


This part gets controversial. Some people have really specific ways of washing their new creations. I'm here to tell you that anything will do. We used detergent and put them on a regular cycle. Easy as pie.

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